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Sweet Sixteen brings meeting of the minds to Indy

2013-03-28T19:30:00Z 2013-03-29T02:15:35Z Sweet Sixteen brings meeting of the minds to IndyCourtney Linehan courtney.linehan@nwi.com, (219) 933-3367 nwitimes.com

Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo says he was sitting at the breakfast table filling out brackets with his 13-year-old son when he noticed the Midwest Region remained largely blank.

"I'm having trouble with a game," Steven told his dad.

"What game?" Izzo prodded.

"I've got you getting to Duke, Dad," Steven said, but then he began to hem and haw. He wanted to put Dad's team in the Elite Eight, but his gut wouldn't go for it.

In the end, even Tom Izzo's son says Duke will win today's Sweet Sixteen game against the Spartans.

And why not? Duke leads the all-time series 7-2.

The matchup features a meeting of two of the greatest minds in college basketball.

On one bench will sit Mike Krzyzewski, Duke's coach of 33 years and the winningest coach in Division I basketball history.

Izzo will occupy the other, having recently become the third-winningest coach in Big Ten history and currently reigning as the longest-tenured Big Ten coach.

"They're two of the best in the game, no question about it," Duke forward Ryan Kelly said during a press conference Thursday in Indianapolis. "They'll do an excellent job for both their teams getting them prepared."

Such a great job, that even Izzo's son has a tough time picking a winner.

Yet the coaches have no intention of micromanaging the show. They say great success is not a matter of making decisions midgame, but rather equipping your players to execute for themselves.

"You can't be instinctively reactive to what's going on in the game if you're constantly looking at your coach to tell you every move," Krzyzewski said. "Our teams are prepared to follow their instincts, and they have good instincts. So do we."

Those instincts have brought Duke and Michigan State nearly unprecedented postseason success.

Duke is 98-32 all-time in the NCAA tournament, and has played in 10 national championship games. It has been a No. 1 or 2 seed in 15 of the last 17 seasons.

Michigan State is 56-25 in the tournament, having been to the Sweet 16 five of the last six years. It has made eight Final Four appearances.

Should the Spartans win, Krzyzewski is ready to reach his arms out to hug Izzo, shake his hand, and wish him well in the Elite Eight.

Krzyzewski knows Izzo will do the same should Duke win.

"We understand the game is bigger than anybody," Krzyzewski said.

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